The three candidates for Minnesota State House District 66A debated on issues including jobs, education, taxes, the proposed constitutional amendments and the 2011 state shutdown during a Thursday night forum hosted by Roseville Patch.
About 40 people attended the forum, which was broadcast live by CTV North Suburbs and spanned two hours.
Republican Mark Fotsch took the hardest line during the debate, repeatedly referring to DFLer Alice Hausman as “my opponent,” ascribing blame to Democrats for the failure of the state to pay back its debt to the schools and attempting to pin Hausman as a contributor to the problem of political gridlock.
“We have not learned from the past,” Fotsch said, noting that government shutdowns have occurred under both Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.
“There’s only one person up here who has voted in the House of Representatives,” Fotsch said, referring to Hausman, who has been a state representative and is running in the new District 66A. (That occurred due to legislative redistricting earlier this year.)
Hausman disputed the characterization, speaking about her minority role in working with Republicans to draft the language to resolve the shutdown.
Fotsch promised to work to repay the $3 billion the state borrowed from the schools to end the shutdown.
“My opponent voted against this twice,” he said.
Hausman said the issue required more substantive changes than just repaying the debt to the schools.
“That bill wanted to drain our savings account and use all our savings account to repay the schools, which would put the state in trouble again next year.”
Fotsch mentioned President Barack Obama’s name more than he did the names of either of his opponents, in an attempt to link Hausman with that national incumbent.
“This health care bill, which is crushing small businesses, has been ramrodded down by Democrats,” he said. “This Obamacare tax needs to go.”
Throughout the debate, Independence Party candidate Dave Thomas stressed his higher education pet project.
“We need to focus on the economy and the long-term future, which for me is to institute a tuition-free university system in the state of Minnesota,” he said.
Ramsey County Board District 2
In the debate for Ramsey County District 2, Republican Sue Jeffers and DFLer Mary Jo McGuire differed over which one of them would be the better steward of taxpayer money.
“Ramsey County residents don’t want another politician,” Jeffers said. “They want a guardian of their taxpayer money, and I am that person.”
Both candidates promised to lower property taxes.
“People want less property taxes, mainly, because they don’t want to be forced out of their homes,” McGuire said. “That’s why I want the state to pay for their mandates.”
When asked by an audience member what sets the two candidates apart, Jeffers pointed to differing views on light rail (McGuire supports it, Jeffers does not) and contrasted their experience.
“I come from a private sector background,” Jeffers said. “She comes from an academic-legislative background.”